Sometimes, it isn’t just the art someone produces which makes them famous, but the way the artist sells themself which makes us look at them. That’s why I’m taking a look at some people who work in the creative industry that have managed to make a name for themselves by means which are out-of-the-box.
Just to be clear, I’m focusing on individuals and small groups, as opposed to big companies which used clever marketing tactics to make us buy their goods.
Also, I’m only looking at people with creative professions, so I’m excluding cases like Alfred Ajani holding up a sign in Waterloo Station. It’s a story worth reading, but not quite right for this list.
James Addison – ‘Puzzles for Postmen’
A talented graphic designer who graduated from Bournmouth in 2011, James Addison hasn’t just put his name on the map because of the big companies he’s designed for, but also for the ingenious ways in which he teases our Royal Mail.
Rather than use the standard address format, what James likes to do is send letters to various secret addresses in a variety of cryptic ways. From drawing the location on the envelope, to writing the address in morse code, James (to the annoyance of the Royal Mail) has inspired other creative souls to find equally challenging ways of getting their letters sent.
LESSON TO LEARN: Doing something unconventional will most-likely grab peoples attention.
My Dog Sighs – ‘Free Art Friday’
Artists are often incredibly reluctant to give some of their work away for free, but My Dog Sighs is an accepttion. The difference with him is that he only gave his art away on Fridays, and would give clues for people to find where the art was. Then, it was up to his followers to take part in a scavenger-hunt for that secret place and get a free piece of his art.
Now only was this trend popular with his followers, but it was so popular, that it spread to other artists from all around the world, and My Dog Sighs was the man who started it all.
LESSON TO LEARN: Encourage brand-loyalty by giving your customers a reason to keep track of the work you’re producing.
Maria Malone-Guerbaa – ‘Famous Face-Paints’
A mother of two from London, Maria Malone-Guerbaa, despite working for various TV shows as a make-up artist, never found a way to make a name for herself. That was until one day when she decided to combine her make-up skills with those she has an an artist, and see if she can transform herself into different celebrities with nothing – yes, nothing – but face-paint.
With each painting taking approximately 4 hours to complete, she’s gained an immense following on Instagram, she has recently expanded her skills into transforming herself into animals. She has also had multiple media-appearances, and become involved in a variety of make-up based competitions.
LESSON TO LEARN: Sometimes, finding a niche where you can use your talents is enough to make someone want to follow you.
The Clarion Quartet – ‘Having a Jam in the Traffic Jam’
Between junctions 26 and 27 in the M5, a massive traffic-jam was caused when a horse escaped it’s horse box and ran rampant in the road. The quartet in question, on their way home from performing at a wedding ceremony, were also caught in the jam. So, as bored as everyone else was, they decided to step out of their vehicle, and play Pachelbel’s ‘Canon in D’ live on the motorway.
It wasn’t long before an audience crowded around them, video-phones at the ready, and were given a round of applause once they finished their piece. And, as you can guess, it was media-appearances all the way from there-on.
LESSON TO LEARN: If you see an opportunity to make your voice heard, you might-as-well take it.
Ben Wilson – ‘The Spitting Image’
Don’t you just hate it when you see a pavement that’s littered with chewing gum? Well, so did painter and sculptor, Ben Wilson. So, being the son of an artist, and a graduate from art-school, he decided to brighten both people’s spirits and streets by getting on his hands and knees, and painting tiny paintings into the individual pieces of spat-out gum
He was once arrested by police for allegedly vandalising property, yet was released without charge after a wave of supporters wrote letters demanding to set him free. He went full-time doing his chewing gum paintings in 2004, and still gets media-appearances for it to this day.
LESSON TO LEARN: Producing work that can turn a negative into a positive can make you popular.
Doug Walker – ‘Calling it Quits’
Whilst working as an illustrator, Doug used his spare time to make comedic videos of film-reviews. After discovering he was making enough money from the reviews alone, he decided to quit his job in the most OTT way possible, by parading around his workplace to ‘Bohomian Rhapsody’ and putting the clip on the web.
It’s an extremely risky move to make (and one I’d never try in a-million years), but seeing as his reviews have remained successful, even labelling him as one of the Top 10 YouTube Movie Critics according to WatchMojo.com, I’d say it was a successful move.
LESSON TO LEARN: Not everyone will like what you do, but if your target market is going to enjoy something you want to do, it’s a chance worth taking.